A Clean Palette for a Modern Art Collection

A Clean Palette for a Modern Art Collection

A Clean Palette for a Modern Art Collection


Clean lines meets kid-friendly in this Upper West Side apartment, as Ariel Okin layers in tonal textures to let her client’s art collection shine.

Photos by Seth Caplan

Plenty of people would love to be surrounded by great art—but most people don’t want to live in an actual art gallery. It might feel a little cold and unapproachable (though the free wine would for parties would be nice).

Thankfully a family of Upper West Side art collectors had Homepolish designer (and long-time friend) Ariel Okin to balance their impressive artworks with a complementary interior.

“We really just tried to keep to a neutral palette with interesting textures—like airy Belgian linen, chunky jute, burl wood, and woven cane—to create a foundation where the pieces could really shine,” Ariel explains. “Many art collectors homes can feel sterile or gallery-like, but since the clients tended to veer a little more traditional and homey, I wanted to provide a neutral yet layered space for their gorgeous artwork to live. ”

That means a decadent interplay of touchable textures without visually crowding the space. Rich metals meet luxe velvets and rustic linens. The entire 2-bedroom, 2-bath, 2,500 square feet space projects calmness, but begs for further inspections, which is apparently a signature Ariel tactic.

“Tone-on-tone is one of my favorite design tactics,” Ariel shares. “I love incorporating different layers, be it rugs, blankets, fabrics, woods, and more, all in the same colorway to create a subtle and serene ombré effect that feels fresh and uncontrived while still maintaining visual interest. The trick is to add lots of different textures to keep it from feeling too one-note!”

Ariel points to the combo of the Brunschwig et Fils Les Touches fabric and Scalamadre zebras on the sofa as the kind of sophisticated riff that brings a touch of ebullient elegance to the space. But there’s also the need for everyday survival—meaning she made smart choices like utilizing durable Perennials Belgian linen fabric on the sofa to keep it all kid-friendly. Perhaps the most important consideration is that Ariel made sure to offer the kind of flexibility her clients would need down the line.

“I do think it’s important to consider the type and scale of art that will be residing in a space before considering the overall design scheme, but since collectors often change or rotate their pieces, it’s also important to create a versatile, semi-neutral background that can accommodate any type of new addition,” she explains.

Even when the designer’s work is done, the collector’s never is.

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